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    • paulpud
    • By paulpud 15th May 18, 10:53 AM
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    paulpud
    Unusual house construction?
    • #1
    • 15th May 18, 10:53 AM
    Unusual house construction? 15th May 18 at 10:53 AM
    As an electrician I've worked on many different types of buildings over the years but I've recently started renovating a house and it seems to have been built in an unusual way.

    It's a 2 bedroom semi built in the early 1920s, red bricks to the ground floor and a roughcast render finish to the 1st floor. Whilst the external walls to the ground floor have a cavity with an inner leaf made of heavy, 3 inch thick concrete blocks it appears that the 1st floor external walls have no cavity and have been laid with solid concrete blocks about 8 inches thick. There is also a hard render on inside of these upstairs walls, up to about 18 inches above the floor boards, which I can only assume was because of some kind of historic damp issue. All the internal walls have been built using heavy, 2 inch thick concrete blocks including one that was sat on top of the floorboards.

    Has anyone else encountered this kind of construction?
Page 1
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 15th May 18, 11:35 AM
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    FreeBear
    • #2
    • 15th May 18, 11:35 AM
    • #2
    • 15th May 18, 11:35 AM
    I have a semi built in 1928/9 that has brick cavity walls on the ground floor and solid double thickness solid brick on the upper floor. The top half is rendered and pebble-dashed, and the lower finished with a soft local facing brick.

    Internally, partition walls on the ground floor are single skin brick built off concrete foundations below the suspended wooden floor. Upstairs, one single skin brick wall divides the house in half - This is a continuation of the partition wall downstairs and provides support for the roof structure. The remaining upstairs walls are of a wooden stud construction.

    All walls and ceilings are finished in a lime plaster that appears to be mixed from sharp sand and slapped on. Although the finish is reasonably smooth, it is far from flat and even.

    In all, a fairly typical construction for many houses built between the war years.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 15th May 18, 1:42 PM
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    Furts
    • #3
    • 15th May 18, 1:42 PM
    • #3
    • 15th May 18, 1:42 PM
    Coming far more up to date than your 1920s house, it was common in the the 1980- 90s to build like this. Cavity walls up to floor joists then solid walls with blocks laid flat on up. Quick, simple, cheap and de-skilled to build. Now it is insulation blocks in lieu of the 1920s blocks but the build is no different. Still could be if it passes the U Values and I see no reason why it should not.
    • paulpud
    • By paulpud 16th May 18, 4:06 PM
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    paulpud
    • #4
    • 16th May 18, 4:06 PM
    • #4
    • 16th May 18, 4:06 PM
    Thanks guys, not so unusual then but I'd never encountered it before.

    I was surprised at the extensive use of the concrete blocks for the period, and I dread to think of the weight of the one sitting on the floorboards, which I've now taken down ready to be replaced with a stud wall.

    I'm stripping the entire place of plaster (horrible job) and the exposed blockwork is in need of a lot of re-pointing as the mortar in the vertical courses is just falling away.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 16th May 18, 4:46 PM
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    Furts
    • #5
    • 16th May 18, 4:46 PM
    • #5
    • 16th May 18, 4:46 PM
    Thanks guys, not so unusual then but I'd never encountered it before.

    I was surprised at the extensive use of the concrete blocks for the period, and I dread to think of the weight of the one sitting on the floorboards, which I've now taken down ready to be replaced with a stud wall.

    I'm stripping the entire place of plaster (horrible job) and the exposed blockwork is in need of a lot of re-pointing as the mortar in the vertical courses is just falling away.
    Originally posted by paulpud

    Building was unregulated back then and there was loads of dodgy building. More likely if a private/spec build. Check your removed wall was not load bearing, or stiffening, or giving lateral support. I know it was built off floor boards, but stranger things have happened.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 16th May 18, 6:25 PM
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    FreeBear
    • #6
    • 16th May 18, 6:25 PM
    • #6
    • 16th May 18, 6:25 PM
    Building was unregulated back then and there was loads of dodgy building.
    Originally posted by Furts
    Going to have to disagree on this - Building regulations and enforcement was very much a regional affair in those days. There were some attempts to introduce national standards, but it would be another 30 years before anything like what we have today was enshrined in legislation.

    Back "in the day", builders would have used what ever was locally available and cheap (that hasn't really changed). For example, a lot of houses in the south west used locally available aggregates in the concrete - Unfortunately, this was dug out of spoil heaps from the local mines and resulted in very poor concrete. Look up "Mundic block" for some of the issues surrounding this stuff.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 16th May 18, 8:39 PM
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    Furts
    • #7
    • 16th May 18, 8:39 PM
    • #7
    • 16th May 18, 8:39 PM
    Going to have to disagree on this - Building regulations and enforcement was very much a regional affair in those days. There were some attempts to introduce national standards, but it would be another 30 years before anything like what we have today was enshrined in legislation.

    Back "in the day", builders would have used what ever was locally available and cheap (that hasn't really changed). For example, a lot of houses in the south west used locally available aggregates in the concrete - Unfortunately, this was dug out of spoil heaps from the local mines and resulted in very poor concrete. Look up "Mundic block" for some of the issues surrounding this stuff.
    Originally posted by FreeBear
    Council house building was a new concept after WW1. OP's was right at the start of this era. If an ex-council then it is likely to be good but private homes were a different scenario. Some were good others not - everything was different then be it land availability, developers, or building companies. Which meant it was easy to make a quick buck and not bother about quality. This lead to national newspaper articles about jerry building. Eventually matters came to ahead and the NHBC was formed in 1936. Public Heath Act around the same time, but Planning was behind this - it did not come in because the war intervened.

    People have rose tinted spectacles when they look at the 1920-30s homes. They think quality existed but cracking render, shallow foundations, no lintels and much more can go with the territory here.
    • FreeBear
    • By FreeBear 16th May 18, 9:39 PM
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    FreeBear
    • #8
    • 16th May 18, 9:39 PM
    • #8
    • 16th May 18, 9:39 PM
    People have rose tinted spectacles when they look at the 1920-30s homes. They think quality existed but cracking render, shallow foundations, no lintels and much more can go with the territory here.
    Originally posted by Furts
    Quite agree with you there. As I go through my home doing assorted repairs, refurbishment, and redecorating, I'm finding plenty of bodge jobs and sloppy workmanship. Many of them date to when the house was built, and a few more from an extension added in 1976.
    Her courage will change the world.

    Treasure the moments that you have. Savour them for as long as you can for they will never come back again.
    • Furts
    • By Furts 17th May 18, 7:35 AM
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    Furts
    • #9
    • 17th May 18, 7:35 AM
    • #9
    • 17th May 18, 7:35 AM
    Quite agree with you there. As I go through my home doing assorted repairs, refurbishment, and redecorating, I'm finding plenty of bodge jobs and sloppy workmanship. Many of them date to when the house was built, and a few more from an extension added in 1976.
    Originally posted by FreeBear
    Unfortunately this is a reality check for some consumers. Regulations exist, and more so since your 1970s extension. But that does not mean the workmanship, design, or materials are any better because of this. Then consider the flip side - in the 1920s, and long before, this country could build very good houses when there was almost no regulations.

    Bluntly Regulations do not equal quality. Yet politicians keep trying to push in that direction.
    • VfM4meplse
    • By VfM4meplse 17th May 18, 9:15 AM
    • 25,610 Posts
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    VfM4meplse
    People have rose tinted spectacles when they look at the 1920-30s homes. They think quality existed but cracking render, shallow foundations, no lintels and much more can go with the territory here.
    Originally posted by Furts
    Thanks for the vote of confidence! I thought mine was a good strong structure but maybe not
    Value-for-money-for-me-puhleeze!

    "No man is worth, crawling on the earth"- adapted from Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio

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    • Furts
    • By Furts 17th May 18, 12:48 PM
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    Furts
    Thanks for the vote of confidence! I thought mine was a good strong structure but maybe not
    Originally posted by VfM4meplse
    I have every confidence that yours is fine.
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